Caregiving Strategy

Bladder Health

A bathroom sign, pointing left

Although people often think urinary incontinence is something that occurs naturally with age, it is not part of the normal process of aging!

Incontinence is often a symptom of an underlying health issue. Incontinence care is known to be one of the biggest causes of stress for caregivers.

The Bladder Health chapter explores the following topics:

  • Understanding the underlying causes of urinary incontinence.
  • The six types of urinary incontinence and how to identify them.
  • How to have a conversation about urinary incontinence. 
  • Tips for improving urinary incontinence issues right now.
  • How to maintain the dignity of the person you care for about urinary incontinence.
  • The emotional, physical and social costs of urinary incontinence.
  • Managing the impact of urinary incontinence on your caregiving relationship.
  • Myths about bladder health.
  • How to talk to a health care professional about urinary incontinence.
  • Where to get additional support online and in-person.

Common Terms

Throughout the Bladder Health Chapter, we’ll explore the following terms:

Urinary Incontinence An uncontrolled loss of bladder control causing leaking of urine.
Bowel/Fecal Incontinence The involuntary loss of stool from the bowel and is much less common than urinary incontinence.
UTI Urinary tract infection; one of the most common causes of incontinence common signs of which are burning when urinating, going to the bathroom frequently, and an urgent feeling to urinate.
Constipation Common signs are one or fewer bowel movements in two days,  movements that are difficult to pass and are hard or dry.
Functional Incontinence Not being able to get to the bathroom on time due to reasons other than the bladder or urinary system (e.g. problems walking, with memory/thinking, medications).
Transient Incontinence Other health issues that can be easily treated if recognized (e.g. urinary tract infection).
Stress Incontinence Weak muscles in the urinary system and sudden exertion (e.g. sneezing, coughing, laughing).
Urge Incontinence Sudden or urgent need to urinate caused by issues with the bladder (e.g. an infection).
Overflow IncontinenceAn overly full bladder as a result of a blockage (e.g. constipation) or weak bladder muscles.
Total Incontinence Complete loss of bladder control as a result of neurological health conditions (e.g. spinal cord damage, multiple sclerosis).

Resources to Support Bladder Health

  • The Urine Colour Chart is a simple way to check to see if the person you are caring for is getting enough fluid, you can check the colour of their urine. 

    Download the Urine Colour Chart
  • Incontinence Pads for Beds is a section of the Daily Caring Website with information on how to protect the couch and bed from leaks. By protecting the furniture, you can maintain dignity, ease a person’s anxiety and embarrassment.

    More information on Incontinence Pads for Beds
  • The Bristol Stool Chart is a simple way to check if the person you are caring for is constipated. Health care professionals use this tool in practice.

    Download the Bristol Stool Chart
  • Bowel Incontinence by the The Canadian Continence Foundation is a great website that includes information and resources for bowel incontinence (fecal incontinence). This website is a great start for a caregiver who wants to learn the basic facts and where to go for additional support.

    More information on Bowel Incontience
  • The Bladder Diary is a tool that can be used by the person you are caring for (or ask if you can help them complete it) to gather background information to share with your health care provider.

    Download the Bladder Diary
  • The Bladder Health Chapter also lists additional information, tips, and resources on how to find additional support and communicate with health care professionals.

    Download the Bladder Health Chapter

Next Steps

  • Download the Caregiving Strategies Handbook for reference to all chapters in one location.
  • If you want to learn more Caregiving Strategies, register for the online course. This course allows you to work through these topics at your own pace alongside other caregivers.
  • Sign up below if you would like to receive updates from RGPO about resources for caregivers and or upcoming online course offerings.